Citizens' Relations Management – Towards Citizen-Centric Services
Ministry of State for Administrative Development

The Problem

In Egypt, public administration avails complaining mechanisms through specialized offices within each governmental entity. These offices were previously called “complaint offices”. In 1981, a presidential decree re-baptized them as “Citizen Service Offices” and defined their roles. However, it left the reporting line and the administration of these offices to be re-defined according to each case.
Complaints were managed in paper format and consequently it was difficult to track any specific one. Moreover, issuing any sort of statistics for the incoming complaints was almost impossible. The end result was weak supervision over these offices.
In addition, most of these offices did not have sufficient authority neither to follow up a complaint nor to ensure a satisfactory response. Thus, its administrative weight within the organization and from the citizen perspective was gradually diminishing. Actually, in some organizations, these offices turned into a dump for undesired staff.
The difficulties implied by this system (either in tracking or in resolution time and even in irresolution) and most importantly the fact that these offices (receiving the complaint) are directly related to the entity complained of, generated a feeling of injustice at the citizen, evolving to a total mistrust vis-à-vis the government.
Following is a summary of the main problems encountered prior to the initiative:
• Lengthy, Unreliable, ineffective and inefficient Complaining procedures resulting in:
 Inability to track each individual complaint
 No guarantee for a feedback/resolution
 Unforeseen feedback/resolution time
 Lack of internal monitoring and follow up
• No clear, well defined, interactive channel for communication
• Offices may be difficult to reach for some citizens especially those living in rural areas
• Unable to process an ever growing number of complaints

These were all complications that had a direct negative impact affecting various social groups. With the growing number of citizens and services, it was impossible to keep track of citizens' complaints. The paper-based system became ineffective as the only communication channel between citizens’ and the various public entities.

Solution and Key Benefits

 What is the initiative about? (the solution)
In July 2006, the Citizen Relationship Management (CRM) initiative was launched by the Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD) to serve as a help desk/complaint mechanism supporting the Egyptian National Government Services Portal and consequently evolved to serve other entities as will be described later on. The CRM came from the well know business line acronym “Customer Relationship Management”, which reflects how this new model perceived the citizen as customer of the public services. A commercial CRM package was used as the core system.

Different access channels were then availed through this core: a unified phone number (19468 or 19GOV) supported by a centralized call center, a single point of access through the Government Portal as well as a unique email address. Over 1 Million complaints/inquiries are received yearly.
Complaints are directly accessed by the concerned agency/organization. The central CRM team at MSAD monitors the response time for the incoming complaints in order to ensure a feedback within an acceptable time frame, through a well established coordination with the concerned agency officials.

The CRM engine then allows the management to issue periodical statistics and analysis of the types of incoming calls, complaints, response times, etc… allowing the decision makers to take proper actions in their respective fields.

The system proved to be efficient, and in some cases indispensable, especially during services accessed by a large number of citizens and had to be carried out in a limited time frame. As an example, the Online Application for Public Universities Enrollment accessed by around 400000 school students with different enquiries to be resolved on the spot. Furthermore, this setup was of great help during national crises such as earth sliding, sinking ferries, epidemics, etc.

Major Achievements can be highlighted as follows:
• Provide a help desk/complaint mechanism available in some cases 24/7
• Establish multiple interactive channels for communication between citizens and government
• Provide efficient tracking system through a ticket number assigned to each complaint
• Provide a reliable monitoring and follow up through an automated well-controlled workflow
• Ensure Fast handling for urgent inquiries (e.g health/utilities sectors)
• Generate statistics that assist decision makers to align the quality of service with the citizens' needs

The following statistics illustrates the system evolution from 2006 to 2010:
• No. of government entities using a CRM system: from 2 entities to 40
• No. of Calls : started by 220000 and reached 1 million
• No. of Complaints : from 25000 to 400000
• % of complaint resolution: from 70 % to 95%

The CRM system’s was deployed at 40+ government bodies, which allowed for building a performance management platform dubbed the “Public Service Dashboard”. It is used by MSAD officials to monitor complaint patterns and other key performance indicators (KPI’s), to pinpoint areas within the government where improvements are needed the most. Finally, the feedback received from citizens revealed an increase in the satisfaction level since, for the first time, they are capable of tracking their complaints and receive a feedback.

Actors and Stakeholders

 Who proposed the solution, who implemented it and who were the stakeholders?
The initiative was introduced and implemented by the Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD). MSAD led the implementation effort in coordination with multinational technology providers and their local partners.
The initiative is currently being deployed at all agencies within the Government of Egypt, as part of an effort to raise citizen satisfaction and the service quality within the public sector.

Stakeholders of the project include MSAD, 40+ government bodies where the system was deployed (along with their civil servants, who resolved the raised issues and acted as well as CRM agents), the technology provider, development partners and public service beneficiaries: citizens and investors.

(a) Strategies

 Describe how and when the initiative was implemented by answering these questions
 a.      What were the strategies used to implement the initiative? In no more than 500 words, provide a summary of the main objectives and strategies of the initiative, how they were established and by whom.
Changing the perception of the Egyptian government value, the Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD), needed to revolutionize the caliber of the services offered to citizens and investors
while promoting transparency within government.

Establishing a two-way communication channel between the citizen and the government was essential in order to ensure sustained service quality. The CRM initiative was accordingly adopted by MSAD, as early as 2005/2006, as a strong supporting tool to receive citizens’ complaints, suggestions and inquiries, via multiple media channels such as web, fax and phone.

The initiative had an important objective of establishing trust between the citizens and the public administration/government. This is to be achieved through a professional call answering system beyond official working hours (and in some cases 24x7); an efficient and effective complaint handling mechanisms guaranteeing adequate response time; as well as maintaining the quality of such a service by regular analysis.

Among the strategies employed in this initiative was opting not to go for a big-bang approach, and sticking to a ramp-up strategy. MSAD launched a pilot project for the initiative at its inception. That pilot project encompassed availing CRM services for the National Government Services Portal. Upon the success of the pilot project and the experience gained from its implementation, two government agencies were identified for solution deployment. These further systems were a great success. It was then decided to implement the solution at a national-level. MSAD’s ramp-up approach was critical in building the capacity of the implementation team, as well as demonstrating the benefits that can be realized by such a system.

The nationwide model aimed at reducing the cost of implementation and management, similar to “software as a Service (SaaS) model”. With a single central implementation, adding an extra-entity is simply achieved by developing the specific web forms, identifying the internal users and train them, as well as training the call center agents on the specific scripts. This reduced the cost of implementation, and more importantly reduced the time to deploy the service in a new entity, which can be critical in case of crisis.

(b) Implementation

 b.      What were the key development and implementation steps and the chronology? No more than 500 words
The original idea started in 2005 with a limited implementation plan to serve as a support to the government Services Portal. The online complaint forms availed on the portal were supported by a limited number of outsourced seats at a call center, accessed via a unified short fixed line phone number 19GOV (19468).

The progress and accumulated experience continued to mid-2007 which allowed MSAD to establish a platform and a mechanism to develop and host similar services for different organizations. The importance of the CRM supported by a call center became more obvious in times of national crises, most notably the Avian Flu.

By the end of 2007, 14 different entities were either connected to MSAD CRM hub, or were running their own platform (MSAD supported other entities establishing their own system based on the same methodology).

With the increasing number of sites, MSAD used the services of a professional data center to host and manage the technical infrastructure, thus offloading MSAD and the involved entities from all technical burdens.

In 2008, other entities such as the water and electricity companies as well as governorates (municipalities) engaged similar initiatives with MSAD. By the end of 2010, 40 different entities were engaged with MSAD in this system.

(c) Overcoming Obstacles

 c.      What were the main obstacles encountered? How were they overcome? No more than 500 words
The challenges faced could be classified under two main umbrellas:

1. Technical Implementation Challenges

One of the challenges was the integration of the different systems, linking documents throughout the business cycle with the CRM system and then consolidating the scattered data across all ministries and providing MSAD officials with a unified view over the performance.

Another challenge was that the CRM application was hosted in a data center that was over 50Km away from where the call center was based. This was overcome by choosing a CRM system that is based on a thin client web application which uses minimal network traffic.

From infrastructure perspective, unreliable electricity and internet connections at some remote locations and weak infrastructure at remote areas were unforeseen obstacles. Strong political support came in action to overcome this by upgrading infrastructure at those locations.

2. Cultural Implementation Challenges

The main challenge was building capacities within government agencies to switch from paper-based complaints system to a computer-based one. The project started by upgrading civil servants’ computer skills, and gradually, training them on the CRM system till they became professional users of both computers and the CRM application. Moreover, an easy-to-use bilingual CRM system was chosen to overcome language barriers.

Changing the government employees culture and attitude towards promoting transparency and becoming more customer-service oriented was a hard task. This necessitated preparing and providing a set of courses to promote the new concept. Involving top management and key persons helped a lot to surpass this impediment.

Maintaining strong cooperative attitude between MSAD’s team and the different entities teams was a key factor for the success of the initiative. Repeated periodic training of both staff and call center agents was a major aspect for knowledge refreshing, exchanging new knowledge and reconnecting the nods between management and staff.

(d) Use of Resources

 d.      What resources were used for the initiative and what were its key benefits? In no more than 500 words, specify what were the financial, technical and human resources’ costs associated with this initiative. Describe how resources were mobilized
Financial Resources:
Since the project was initiated it was funded by MSAD. The exact values of the project implementation differ from one entity to the other depending on the number of citizens expected to interact with the system, as well as the number of seats at the call center. Some services are seasonal while others are provided throughout the year.

• The budget items are as follows:
 Infrastructure: Hardware and software licenses
 CRM web interface customization and development
 Call center seats’ rental fees
 Training
 Back office management/integration
 Project management

• Initial Costs, for a new site, can be classified as follows:
 Hardware : 35000 USD per Server
 Software licenses: 35000 USD per Server
 Call Center Seat (PC + CRM + internet connectivity + training) : 1050 USD

• Yearly costs, for an existing site, can be classified as follows:
 Call Center Seat 10000 USD
 Training (Repeated/Periodic) 300 USD

Technical and Human Resources:
Resources associated with the initiative so far has amounted to 8000 training hours for civil servants, over 1600 software development man-days, in addition to infrastructure costs.

Sustainability and Transferability

  Is the initiative sustainable and transferable?
The initiative’s sustainability is ensured by the high levels of satisfaction achieved among public service beneficiaries: citizens and investors.

The initiative is sustained at each government agency, where the system is deployed, by building staff capacities to ensure the smooth operation of the CRM system. Also, MSAD periodically monitors performance at these agencies to ensure that they are abiding by a set of service levels.

Deploying the system in 40+ different government entities is an apparent evidence for how the system can be easily replicated. The project is foreseen to be consolidated into a National Citizen Interaction Center, to serve all government/public administration bodies that request the service, and probably be operated as an autonomous call center.

Lessons Learned

 What are the impact of your initiative and the lessons learned?
One of the most important impacts of the initiative is the effect of CRM system deployed at 40+ government bodies. The feedback received from citizens revealed an increase in the satisfaction level since, for the first time, they are capable of forwarding their complaints, tracking them and receiving a feedback.

After several years of implementation, the average turnaround time for incoming calls and opened tickets was reduced. Moreover, the solution has increased operational efficiency, improved service quality and accuracy through history tracking and monitoring tools. Analyzing the complaints patterns will help to pinpoint areas within the government where improvements are needed the most.

A clear example of the initiative success is that the project turned to be a nationwide project.

Lessons Learned

Rolling out of the CRM solution to other Ministries requires a gradual approach of implementation.

Doing a proper analysis of the complicated infrastructure and work culture prior to implementation and launch of the CRM solution, proved to be very important in predicting problems and planning to solve them ahead of time.

A phased approach is best for a project of such scale. Short-term targets help in securing political support for the project, and hence financing.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of State for Administrative Development
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Hossam Ragheb
Title:   Director of Government Services Program  
Telephone/ Fax:  
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Postal Code:  
Country:   Egypt

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